28 Sep 2023 - 19 Oct 2023

Terra Ephemera

Mestaria Gallery


Emirati artist Mariam Abbas launches Terra Ephemera: A Visual Cartography of Resilience, the first Alserkal Lates of the season. The exhibition is an artistic exploration into the impermanent yet resilient aspects of the Emirati environment and its inhabitants.

Abbas wanted to shed light on the (predominantly unknown), local flora of the Emirates, and to highlight that there is so much more to the landscape than the skyline, but she also wants us to look at them together.

Terra Ephemera: “Terra” is the Latin word for “earth” or “land”, representing the ground upon which all elements of nature and architecture coexist. “Ephemera” signifies things that are temporary, fleeting, or transitory, which in the context of the exhibition can refer to both the evolving urban landscapes and the transient nature of flora in the desert. Together, “Terra Ephemera” captures the transient yet enduring spirit of the Emirati land and its elements.

The exhibition features seven corresponding pairs: a pencil sketch of a plant with its botanical name, next to an acrylic painting of the same plant amid the UAE’s skyrise, using its common name.

“Architecture and flora co-exist, but we tend to look up, not down here. The UAE’s flora exists in the city, in the desert and in the mountains. Colours are often muted, flowers are often small, so many go unnoticed, but I want to draw attention to them,” says Abbas.

The title, Terra Ephemera: A Visual Cartography of Resilience serves as an inviting prologue to a complex narrative, mapping the interlinked themes of change, endurance, and intricate interconnectivity that Abbas brings to life through her art. Her work acts as a type of map. It plots the complex emotional, ecological, and cultural terrains that she explores in her works; and resilience is a nod towards the enduring qualities of both the Emirati flora and the country’s rapidly evolving urban environments. It signifies the grit and adaptability that mark the subjects she chooses, echoing the resilient spirit that binds the elements she portrays.

Press release from Mestaria Gallery